With the team's four-year starting free safety traveling to Miami for a possible contract, the Steelers have apparently signed free safety Will Allen to a three-year deal. ESPN's Adam Schefter had the scoop, citing a source close to the negotiations.
Allen shouldn't be confused with the former first-round cornerback of the same name. Allen comes with none of the pedigree of Clark. Where Clark has been a starter for six of his eight NFL seasons, Allen has been a full-time starter only once in his six-year career and has started only two games in the past three years.
Allen has been a special teams standout for the Bucs, which will help one of Pittsburgh's biggest needs, but the signing also seems to signify that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin believes Allen can be more than a special teamer. Allen played for Tomlin in Tomlin's final two seasons in Tampa Bay as the defensive backs coach, so there is some familiarity there
The signing fits the Steelers' approach. While terms of Allen's contract haven't been announced, it will likely be an inexpensive deal. That's exactly what Pittsburgh did the last time it needed a free safety -- Clark signed for four years, $7 million. At the time Clark was thought to be an adequate safety, nothing more. But the Steelers scouting department found something in Clark -- he proved to be the perfect complement to strong safety Troy Polamalu. If there is any knock on Clark it's that he seemed less effective when Polamalu went down with a knee injury last year -- his best role may be as a complimentary safety, not as a star.
If the Steelers can do half as well in signing Allen, they will have done quite well. But it's hard to believe this will be the last move Pittsburgh makes to fill its holes at safety. Backup Tyrone Carter is an unrestricted free agent, so Pittsburgh still has room to either sign or draft another safety.